Happy New Year
Welcome to the first digest email of 2022. We hope you all had a good break for the festive holidays and wish you all a Happy New Year. This email provides an overview of the activity on your account since the beginning of December 2021.
Roman Joins the Kudos Team
Right at the end of last year we were very pleased to welcome Roman Garcia to the Kudos sales team. Having worked previously at Juno, Roman is well-known to many of our sales accounts already and, as he is also very familiar with the Kudos label roster, we’re excited to have him on board as Account Manager. He will be focussing on managing and developing physical sales opportunities while Kira continues to develop our digital marketing strategy.
The Brennan Bill – IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ!
This Friday 3rd December, Kevin Brennan MP’s Private Members Bill will be debated in the House of Commons. This Bill is an early response to the #BrokenRecord campaign and the subsequent DCMS Select Committee inquiry into the economics of music streaming.
We’ve written a blog piece which you will find at the link below outlining why we are opposed to these proposals and feel they could be damaging to the independent music community.
If passed, this legislation would have far reaching consequences for all our businesses, so please take some time to read up and make sure you’re up to speed.
In summary, we would echo AIM’s view that the Brennan Bill is unworkable, highly impractical, and would damage the smallest the most. It would push independent artists into the arms of the majors or overseas labels. There are links in our post which explain how to contact your MP if you wish to make your feelings known – which you must do immediately if they are to receive your message before the upcoming debate!
We continue to see rapid rises in vinyl manufacturing prices. These price rises are a result of worldwide PVC shortages, increased packing material costs, and most recently the increased cost of power.
Several pressing plants have warned us of an imminent price rise due to ongoing dramatic increases in energy costs. According to GZ, one of our vinyl suppliers, gas prices have grown by 296% and electricity by 245% in the Czech Republic since the start of the year. This development is so severe that they now see no alternative than to reflect the growth of energy costs in our vinyl prices.
As mentioned in a previous digest, the volatility in manufacturing prices means that we can’t guarantee that the price quoted at the beginning of a job will be the same as the price invoiced when stock arrives. Please make sure you build in extra margin when setting your dealer prices.
A reminder as we approach the holiday season that digital lead times get extended as things begin to slow down. Any releases intended for release this year that are not yet delivered should ideally be submitted in the next few days or otherwise scheduled for next year.
Happy Christmas and New Year
Kudos will be closed for Christmas from 24th December and we return on 4th January.
2021 has certainly been challenging. The Kudos accounts, marketing, sales, label management and development teams have all spent the whole year working from home while our warehouse team have kept the physical distribution show on the road. Big “Hat Tip” to Leroy, Simon, Adam, Joe and Hannah for keeping the parcels flowing.
We would also like to say a big Thank You to all our labels who have persevered through the challenges of the last couple of years. Pandemic, Brexit, PVC shortages… all taken in your stride. Well done, and have a great Christmas.
Thanks and Farewell to Owen
After six years at Kudos, our Sales Manager Owen moved on to a new role elsewhere at the end of October. We wish him all the best. Kira, who joined us earlier this year to manage our socials and marketing will be expanding her role to cover much of Owen’s responsibilities on the digital side and we look forward to welcoming someone new to the physical sales team in the near future.
Holiday lead times
With Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching, remember that you’ll need to give extra lead time to ensure upcoming releases aren’t delayed by holiday closures and slow-downs. Digital releases planned between 26th November 2021 and 7 January 2022 will need to reach some stores a minimum of two weeks in advance. Releases scheduled to our normal timelines should be ok, but anything submitted or updated less than three weeks ahead is not guaranteed to go live on the intended release date.
Our last physical releases of 2021 will ship in week commencing 13th December for release on 17th December – with restocks only in the week leading up to Christmas. Kudos will be shut from close of business on 23rd December, reopening 4th January 2022. The first new physical releases in 2022 will ship for release on 14th January.
Overseas labels shipping stock to the UK for distribution
We are occasionally seeing Duty charges on clearance invoices from both the EU and from the USA. As neither Vinyl or CDs attract duty, these charges are most likely a result of incomplete (or incorrectly completed) customs invoices accompanying the shipment, or an incorrect manifest. Any labels shipping stock from overseas to Kudos should reference this recently updated article on the knowledgebase which offers guidance on how to provide accurate documents, including a template shipping invoice.
Reducing Clearance Charges
If you dispatch items to us using normal mail (so it arrives with us via Parcelforce), we will likely be charged £12 per carton for customs clearance (which we will re-charge). This is a competitive fee if your shipment is only one box, but for larger shipments (3 cartons +) you will probably be better shipping either with a forward or with UPS.
Amazon for Artists Pitching Tool
The AfA app gives artists and their teams access to data about consumption on Amazon’s streaming services. It was recently updated to add a new release track pitching tool – similar to the one in Spotify for Artists. One notable difference is that tracks can be pitched up to 14 days after release. Kudos can access to AfA for all our distributed repertoire and so we may also make pitches on your behalf to complement our other marketing efforts with Amazon. More info from Amazon here. See also general info about “… for Artist” services on the knowledgebase here.
Bandcamp Pre Orders and Refunds
Refunds on Bandcamp can only be processed within 180 days of order. After that period the customer can only be reimbursed by a separate payment, so you end up bearing the cost of the bandcamp commission and payment fees that were deducted from the original order in addition to the payment fees levied on the refund payment.
To avoid getting hit with these extra charges;
- Don’t take orders on items that are not yet in production.
- Only start taking orders that you know can be fulfilled *and delivered* comfortably within that 180 day window.
- Consider extended production and delivery times
- Also allow as much time as possible to deal with refunds for customer service issues (lost in post) after the record is released.
We’ve added a few FAQs for our Bandcamp integration here.
Update on Kudos Covid Policy
While restrictions nationally have largely been lifted, COVID rates are still high and in order to keep our warehouse staff safe we are not yet encouraging on-site meetings. This also extends to on-site stickering and stock processing. If you could arrange all stock to be stickered / sleeved etc before delivery, that would be really appreciated.
We caught up with U-TRAX who we recently welcomed to the Kudos family, as well as Central Processing Unit to chat about what encouraged them to start their labels, influences, future plans and much more. You can read both the interviews below.
Kudos Welcomes Kira
We’re delighted to welcome a new member to our team at Kudos. Having previously worked at ColdCuts // Hotwax, Kira will be taking over from Beth – managing our social media channels and working with labels on advertising campaigns and marketing.
Sales & Label Manager Reshuffle
With Kira now covering socials, Beth will be moving full time into a Sales and Label management role, taking over from Luke who will now be concentrating on other areas of the business.
You will all, no doubt, be aware of current supply side crises in the world of vinyl manufacturing. Turnaround times show no sign of improving, while the price of raw materials continues to increase. The cost of PVC has increased 50% since 2020, with further increases imminent.
The upshot of this is that we have had to pass on an immediate price rise. We have also been informed that the final price of all manufacturing orders will be based on our plant’s published prices at the point of delivery, NOT at the point at which we place the order. We are still happy to provide quotes for new jobs, but you will need to factor in a margin to cover possible price increases that may occur between order and delivery.
Physical Product Images
For releases that have at least one physical format present, you now have the option to upload up to three product photos and/or mockups images on the formats tab. These images can be used to illustrate your packaging and artwork etc. and will be made available on our B2B & D2C facing services. These are in addition to the square cover image – which will still be used as the primary visual for the release across our systems.
Brexit Webinar: EU VAT For D2C
Join us tomorrow for the VAT Webinar hosted by AIM . From 1 July 2021 all commercial goods, including physical music and merch, imported into the EU from the UK will be subject to VAT and there will be a new EU Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) system to handle VAT payment and reporting. This is a big change since, until now, no import VAT had to be paid for CDs, vinyl, merch, etc. sold D2C up to the value of EUR 22 (or less in some countries).
After 1 July, the platform through which you’re selling goods into the EU will be principally liable for the payment of VAT, but the seller is ultimately liable so make sure you’re clear on the new rules, especially if you’re operating your own webstore. This session will help you understand what this means for your business dealings and how to handle the new procedure.
The impact of the vinyl production crisis on indie artists
We, amongst others in the industry, were recently invited to contribute our thoughts on the current state of manufacturing delays caused Covid-19, RSD and other variant related issues.
YouTube Channel Optimisation Guide
With over 2 billion logged-in monthly users, YouTube is one of the most important online video sharing and social media platforms. It is a key part of the music marketing ecosystem in addition to being an increasingly significant source of subscription streaming revenue – but it is often overlooked in label marketing strategies. To help you get the most from your label and artist channels, Beth has added a new article to the knowledgebase covering the basic steps you should take to knock your channels and videos into shape. Find the article here.
Artist Location Info in Sales Notes
With curatorial programming on digital music services becoming increasingly localised and tailored for the individual user, an artist’s home location (or other cities/countries of particular relevance for the artist) can be an important factor in deciding where a release might achieve visibility or playlist placements etc. Please bear this in mind when entering your sales notes. It’s useful to have this information available when we come to pitch your releases.
EU VAT Changes on D2C Sales
Major changes to EU VAT implemented on July 1st 2021 dramatically altered the rules around sales taxes on physical goods destined for EU-based customers. This included the abolition of the low value consignment relief threshold which previously allowed the majority of D2C vinyl and CD orders shipped from the UK to enter the EU without attracting EU VAT.
Under the new rules, consignments of any value are subject to VAT at the rate determined by the destination country. However, for consignments valued under 150 EUR, a new scheme (IOSS) allows the VAT to be collected by the seller at the checkout and paid directly to the relevant tax authority (much like domestic sales), rather than having the customer receive an unexpected bill at the point of delivery.
We’re pleased to announce that EU sales made through kudosrecords.co.uk are now compliant with the IOSS scheme – allowing EU customers to receive their orders hassle-free.
For sales made through marketplaces like Bandcamp and Discogs, the marketplace itself now bears the legal responsibility for calculating, collecting and remitting VAT on EU-bound orders rather than the individual seller. However, as it stands, although Bandcamp and Discogs have each made changes to their systems in readiness for IOSS – and have begun collecting VAT from EU customers – neither has actually managed to complete their registration for the IOSS scheme yet. It’s therefore unclear whether orders processed through those sites can currently be shipped without attracting fees and taxes on the way to the customer. We are keeping our eye on the situation and orders fulfilled by Kudos will be handled appropriately to minimise customer service issues. If you self-fulfil D2C orders made through your own websites, via Bandcamp and/or any other marketplace, we strongly advise you to familiarise yourself with the recent changes and understand how you and your customers may be impacted.
Spotify & Apple Music “HiFi” Announcements
This year has seen a few announcements about audio enhancements on popular streaming services. Back in February, Spotify announced that it would soon be launching a ‘HiFi’ subscription tier giving access to lossless audio streaming. Now Apple have announced that they will soon be making lossless audio available to existing Apple Music subscribers – and will also be supporting Dolby Atmos mixes on compatible hardware. Of course, services such as Qobuz and Tidal have offered a lossless audio option for some time but this is new territory for The Big Two.
Because Kudos always delivers your releases in the highest quality possible, your music is already set up for lossless playback on Spotify and Apple. Please remember when setting up your releases to upload 24 bit audio if possible so that your releases can be made available in high-resolution as well.
Facebook Spotify Integration
A new Spotify mini-player has now been integrated into Facebook that allows logged-in Spotify users to play full-track audio directly from a post. Because these plays are monetised through Spotify just like any other stream, it offers a great way for labels, artists and fans to share and promote tracks in a way that combines a good user experience on Facebook with effective monetisation. More information here.
Physical Product Variants
Sometimes physical releases are manufactured in multiple versions (alternate colourways, multi-disc editions etc.). However, unless these are set up for distribution with distinct product identifiers it can often be difficult for shops to differentiate between them when ordering stock.
We have added an article with guidance on setting up physical product variants on the portal here.
Lyrics on Digital Services
Lyrics have become an important aspect of online music consumption. They are used in a variety of ways to increase fan engagement and aid discovery. We have added an article to the knowledgebase to offer some guidance on how they work.
When setting up your products in the portal, please take care to set the content type as Instrumental for any track which does not contain lyrical content. This information is very important for streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify and deliveries can be rejected if this is not set correctly – potentially causing missed release dates. Also, because there is no language to consider, instrumental tracks are more likely to be recommended to a global audience and there are many playlists dedicated to instrumental music – so it is important to get it right!
If you follow our socials (which you should) you may have seen a number of Label Focus features that we’ve added to our website in recent months to highlight some of our distributed labels and tell their stories. You can while away the lockdown by reading through all the past ones here. We plan to continue these as a regular feature so if you’d like your label to be considered for a future article, drop a line to email@example.com
Pandora Artist Marketing Platform (AMP)
Pandora offers a number of marketing tools through their Artist Marketing Platform which are absolutely free to use. With over 64 million monthly active users, you should consider taking advantage of the these tools to reach and grow your audience in the US with zero cost.
What’s particularly interesting about the Pandora AMP platform is that it allows you to promote off-platform – to advertise physical merchandise or upcoming tours etc. Though note that you’re not allowed to link to a competing streaming service.
Shipping Goods to Kudos from Europe post Brexit
Last month we mentioned details for shipping goods to us from Europe – if you are needing a reminder of the extras now required please check the link below.